Saturday, February 2, 2013

Baler, Province of Aurora

My route from Nampicuan to Baler and back
(thru Cuyapo, Guimba, Talavera, Rizal, Pantabangan and Maria Aurora)

The Balete Tree
(probably the largest of its kind in the Philippines)
I rode to Baler, Province of Aurora, from Nampicuan, Province of Nueva Ecija. I would estimate the road trip to take approximately four (4) hours non-stop--probably about the same duration coming straight from Manila. It's a fun ride if you are taking your time. It brings you from the plains of Central Luzon to the peaks of a slice of Sierra Madre, then back down to the Pacific coast. Thanks to the recent "completion" of the cement roads leading to Baler, this part of the Philippines can now be visited with relative ease. One way, which is the one I took, cuts through the town of Castañeda, Nueva Viscaya, where the road remains uncemented. There are also several small bridges along the way where 10 to 20 meters of road leading to and from the bridges remains uncemented. Talk about a perverted fucked-up government that can't get its act together . . . settling for "puweda na iyan" when the incremental work to get the job done right in the first place would have been nominal. Filipino taxpayers have been duped again by corrupt and incompetent politicians, who are voted mostly by non-taxpayers. Something is terribly wrong with this picture . . . ya?

Back to pleasantries . . .

House of Doña Aurora
Historically, Baler is known for being the birthplace of former President Manuel L. Quezon and his wife, Aurora. It is also known for a rather awkward military episode, the Siege of Baler, circa 1898 to 1899, which did not have to happen if not for Baler being cut-off from communications from the rest of the world at that time. For details, see

For now, Baler will surely be another vacation spot for those who enjoy nature and the outdoors. Currently, the main attractions are nature tripping and surfing. There is already one scuba shop in town that can take divers out during the calm months of summer (April and May) and, I am told, up to the months of June and July in the absence of rain and/or typhoons. The rest of the year is for surfers. Two of my favorites (although I have not yet tried them myself) are kite-boarding and kite-boating, which (I bet) would be a hit in the vast expansive bay of Baler. I have not yet explored the plateaus, ridges and peaks of Baler but I have a sneaking suspicion that there is a great paragliding site here somewhere.

This place is known as Sabang Beach, a barangay of Baler.
A cement boardwalk is being constructed in front of existing and new hotel accommodations (also under construction). Assuming the builders don't run out of funds, these should be completed by 2014. In the meantime, you can stay at existing establishments, which are usually fully booked on weekends.

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